Critics' bootcamp: Tick, tick, tick
Sometimes the teacher, sometimes the student. I'm about to become the latter again, for two weeks anyway, as one of eight "critic fellows" at the O'Neill Critics Institute in Waterford, CT. Thanks to a generous scholarship from The New York Times, I'm able to attend the seminars and performances in conjunction with concurrent workshops for playwrights, directors and actors.
We critics will be living in college dorm rooms (no a/c!) and eating dorm cafeteria food--and checking ourselves several times a day for Lyme ticks, something we've been warned about repeatedly in thick stacks of orientation literature.
Yipes. I'm used to Texas chiggers, but ticks? I'm a-skeered of tiny livestock hitching a ride on my hide!
The purpose of the O'Neill (named for the playwright, of course) is to bring together critics with those we regularly critique. We'll be seeing new plays and writing about them on nightly deadlines. Then our reviews will be critiqued daily by "mentors" from Newsday, The Village Voice and other publications. Some academic theater professionals also will be testing our mettle.
It's an exciting oppportunity and a trifle intimidating. But it's always good to get a new perspective on the thing you do for a living (in my case, writing about theater for two newspapers), no matter how long you've been doing it.
And for a couple of weeks, the actors of North Texas can breathe a little easier knowing I'm out of town.
Before and after the O'Neill I'll be in Manhattan, seeing some shows and trying not to shop too much. Having just moved to a new place, I'm still de-acquiring years of stuff I no longer want, need or understand. So many staplers, so few things that need stapling. And that photo of me and Tony "Luke Spencer" Geary at the 1982 Daytime Emmys-- he had a terrible power-perm, I had helmet bangs. Crikeys.
A good summer assignment: Fill eight Hefty bags with detritus you've been meaning to get rid of. If any of it is usable, donate it to charity. If it's not, toss it in the Dumpster. Ridding yourself of the clutter feels as good as losing 10 pounds.
See y'all on the back end of July. I'll probably be out of touch till after the O'Neill experience.
Here's hoping the mentors aren't too mean. And that while I'm gone, Professor Lunch-Guy doesn't start eating salad with some other hot chick.
Lyme ticks, away!